An A-Z of Extinction (part ¾: N-R)
As we enter what has now been termed the 6th mass extinction on Earth, I thought we could take a closer look at the process and causes of extinctions, as well as the species that have suffered. Do you know your ABCs?
N is for the North China Plain. The North China Plain is a large alluvial plain, bordering the Yellow River, in China. Unfortunately, the plain has faced a reduction in crop yield due to unsustainable farming processes and uses of water in the area. This is certainly not the only area worldwide facing extinctions due to agricultural processes.
O is for Over-exploitation. Over-exploitation of geological, floral, and faunal resources is quickly causing harm to the Earth, and it’s ecosystems. Many organisms now face exhausted food supplies due to hunting for trophies, clothing, food, medicine, or for the tourism market.
P is for Pollution. Pollution is seen globally in the water, air, and Earth. Sadly, it’s only getting worse. When unnatural chemicals (or excess silt in marine environments) enter environments, they can change organisms metabolic processes, in the worst case, leading its death. In the air, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds produce photo-chemical smog, as seen in the image.
Q is for Quagga. The Quagga was a species if Zebra that lived in South Africa. When the Dutch settlers went to South Africa; the Quagga was hunted in a bid to remove competition for their livestock. As of 1878 the Quagga became extinct in the wild, followed in 1883 by the death of the last Quagga in captivity.
R is for Rate. There can be no denying that the rate of extinctions has rapidly increased since the commencement of the Holocene. As of 1600AD population growth and agriculture increased contributing to the increase in the rate of extinctions. Since 1500, 77 mammals, 140 birds and 32 amphibians have become extinct. Meanwhile the natural rate of extinctions is far below this, at two species every 10,000 years.